The Meaning of Life
ADDENDUM: A PERSONAL STATEMENT continued
When we commit ourselves to paths that fulfill the self,
but do not contribute to our relationships or our role in society, we often feel
alienated from others and the world in which we live. Likewise, when we commit ourselves
to our personal relationships, but sacrifice ourselves in the process, and neglect making
a contribution to the world, we give away our center of gravity to others, and remain
dependent and internally empty.
Finally, when we commit ourselves work or a role in society which does not honor our
individual selves, and neglects interpersonal relationships, we are likely to feel
disconnected, drained, unfulfilled, and unable to make a satisfying contribution.
The greatest sense of meaning as well as personal fulfillment and contribution to
society are likely to result when we live from the intersection points - not merely
between two of the circles - self/other, self/society, or other/society, although
these indeed may provide satisfaction and meaning, but rather from the
intersection point between all three circles.
At the intersection point, where self, other and society meet, we honor
the needs and talents of our personal selves; we connect lovingly with others, and we
experience ourselves earning our way in the world and contributing to the society in which
we live. In such experiences, and with such life choices, we are likely to experience
fully the meaning of life and to be able to express the fullness of that meaning in our
relationships and our work.
In Man's Search for Meaning, Viktor Frankl wrote:
"Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of his life
but rather must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word,
each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life
by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by
being responsible." (p.172)
This is a viable philosophy, but one which may not be concrete enough for us when we
are faced with important decisions, and grappling with a variety of choices,
none which feel right, and all which may raise conflicts between our needs or
values. What is life asking of us at such a time, when we cannot access our clearest inner
guidance? Or when we have lost our center of gravity and cannot hear the call of our task
The answer may not come easily, but if we can clarify our highest values, and aim to make
choices and discover opportunities that enable us to live from the intersection points of
self, other and society, we are likely to make the best choices and as a result,
to experience considerable meaning in our lives. Infused with that meaning, we
are then able to give from an open heart and a full, abundant spirit, and to
become increasingly more capable of knowing and responding to our unique life tasks.
This document is copyright 1972, 1979, 1997 by Tracy
Please feel free to contact the author by clicking on the above link.
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